The Guardians and the Watchdogs: The framing of politics, partisanship and qualification by selected newspapers during the 2018–2019 Slovak Constitutional Court appointment process

Nine of the 13 Slovak constitutional judges were appointed in 2019, following a tumultuous selection process. One of the controversies that arose was whether previous political involvement of the candidates disqualifies them from the position, a question which remains undertheorized as well. Unpacking the controversy, this paper analyzes how selected quality Slovak newspapers framed the role of politics in the selection process. Building on theories of courts as political institutions and the mediatization of judicial politics, it surveys selected newspapers and finds an interaction between the debate surrounding qualification as a necessary justification for being selected and three different understandings of the nature of constitutional judgeship in relation to politics. Its results speak to the broader question of the kind of political actors constitutional judges are, by offering a conceptualization of the relationship between their political-ness, partisanship and qualification.